Steamboat Springs men’s rugby rolls to Cowpie championship
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After a disappointing showing at the Cowpie Classic last year, the Steamboat Springs men’s rugby team was looking to prove it can do better.
With a 24-0 romping over Sante Fe, New Mexico, and a downright dominant 40-5 win over Denver, Steamboat Springs earned the top seed in their pool. From there, they won their quarterfinal 31-0 over and semifinal 40-5.
“This year, we’re making a real statement that we’re gonna take this home tonight,” Steamboat men’s rugby player Mark Stines said.
The final statement read: Steamboat Springs 30, Boulder 17, as the Fighting Bull Trout won the 45th annual Cowpie Classic on Saturday, July 13, at the Ski Town Fields.
“It feels absolutely great. Honestly, the team performed really well. We were just foot on the pedal and kept it going,” player Kyle Breytenbach said. “I kind of knew we were going to win this final.”
Boulder got on the board first, using a strong opening drive to show Steamboat that this game wouldn’t be as easy as the last few. When the kick bounced off the crooked pine tree upright, the crowd cheered.
Following the good omen provided by the post, Steamboat answered with a score of their own. The Fighting Bull Trout’s kick was good.
Back-and-forth scoring kept the contest as dramatic as the lightning-filled clouds that closed in on the field.
Steamboat held a solid lead as the clock ticked down in the second half, but a score from Breytenbach with eight seconds or so remaining sealed the deal.
“We had two minutes left to go, and we kicked it to post and we missed it,” Breytenbach said. “It went outside the try zone, so that’s an automatic 22 drop-in. The guy kicked it straight into my hands and I ran it back.”
With the victory, members of the crowd formed a tunnel for the players to run through. Dogs and children rushed onto the field and rain started to fall as the players posed for their championship photo.
“This tournament, it feels like from last year to this year, it just grows every year,” Breytenbach said. “The atmosphere is great. The people you play with are great. The people you play against are great. This is what rugby is about, ultimately.”
The Fighting Bull Trout relinquished an early score in their second game of the day as well. Denver struck first, but six unanswered tries put the host team on top.
In the second half, Steamboat pushed past the goal line three times, eliminating any chance of a comeback.
Stines said his team simply played to their strengths.
“Our strengths are our speed, our hands, our quickness,” he said. “We were keeping the ball too close to the inside. We needed to get it wide. As soon as we started getting it wide, using our speed, using our hands, it all came together.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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